Winners of Sussex Food and Drink Awards revealed

It is time to celebrate the best of Sussex produce as the winners have been announced in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards.

The awards, carried over from 2020, received 17,000 public votes.

The winners are: Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op: Jengers Craft Bakery, Billingshurst, West Sussex. Grand finalists were Bangers Galore, Horsham, West Sussex; and The Sussex Biltong Co, Balcombe, West Sussex.

Mark Sheath from Jengers Bakery said: “Winning this award is the icing on the cake for us. I am so proud of what we have achieved in seven years of trading. We are passionate about baking and this award means so much to the entire team.”


Sussex Butcher of the Year, sponsored by RP Meats Wholesale Ltd was awarded to Tablehurst Farm, Forest Row, East Sussex The grand finalists were Cottenhams of Lindfield – Craft Butchers, Lindfield, West Sussex; and Nick The Butcher, Hartfield, East Sussex

Lewes Farmers Marker won Sussex Farmers Market of the Year, sponsored by Harvey’s Brewery. The grand finalists were Horsham Market (Saturday), West Sussex; and Shoreham Farmers Market, West Sussex

Sussex Eating Experience of the Year, sponsored by Lloyds Bank Cardnet was won by The Fig Tree, in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.

Jodie Dearden from The Fig Tree said: “We would like to thank all of our staff at the Fig Tree; we couldn’t have done it without them and their hard work, also to our loyal customers, who continue to support us.”

The grand finalists in the category were Into The Blue, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex; and The Cat Inn, West Hoathly, West Sussex.

Rushfields Farm Shop in Poynings, West Sussex won Sussex Food Shop of the Year, sponsored by Sussex Food and Drink Network. The grand finalists were Jeremy’s Two, Cowfold, West Sussex; and Veasey & Sons Fishmongers, Forest Row, East Sussex.

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All the winners in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards

Heritage by Matt Gillan in Slaugham, West Sussex won Sussex Newcomer of the Year, sponsored by SRC-Time, the grand finalists were Heritage Wheat, Keymer, West Sussex; and Skylark Cafe Restaurant, Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Natural PR was won by Long Man Brewery in Litlington, East Sussex.

Tom O’Neill from Long Man Brewery, said: “Winning this award is wonderful and a really tangible reward for the whole team to be proud of, after their hard work and commitment to steer the business through 2020. It is also a valued springboard for success in 2021.”

Bolney Wine Estate, Bolney, West Sussex; and Ridgeview Wine Estate, Ditchling Common, East Sussex were the grand finalists.

Sussex Street Food of the Year, sponsored by Horsham District Foodies supported by Food Rocks was awarded to Mann & Moore, Horsham, West Sussex, the grand finalists were Pizza Leonati, Hooe, East Sussex; and The BBQ Project, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex.

Dan Ibbotson from etch. in Brighton & Hove was awarded Sussex Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Blakes Foods

He said: “It’s amazing to have won this and will be a huge stepping stone forward for me, hopefully helping me secure great future jobs.”

Lead judge at the cook off, held in March 2020 at the Greater Brighton MET, was nationally acclaimed chef and Great British Menu winner, Matt Gillan, accompanied by fellow Michelin star chefs George Blogg from Gravetye Manor near East Grinstead and Tristan Mason from Restaurant Tristan in Horsham. Fran Villani, Food Blogger and designer from Brighton and sponsor Ben Milford from Blakes Foods also joined the judging panel and all were hugely impressed with the quality and professionalism shown by the young chefs.

Matt said: “This is my fourth year involved in this incredible competition and I’d like to thank my superb, professional judging panel. This year I can honestly say that we have seen the highest standard ever. All five young chefs showed superb technique, presentation and their sourcing of local, seasonal ingredients for a spring menu was faultless, even though it’s a little early for spring.

“This contest is a great opportunity for these young chefs to put their own menus to the test. It is designed to encourage all of them to have a real sense of ownership and achievement at a young age and moving forwards this really does have a huge impact on them.”

The chefs were asked to create a special spring menu to celebrate the end of a long winter and mark the change of the seasons. The three-course dinner or lunch had to showcase ingredients from Sussex producers, farmers and growers with a limited budget of £15 per person and only 90 minutes to produce two plates of each course.

The grand finalists were Freddie Innes, who was working at Ockenden Manor Hotel, Cuckfield, West Sussex; and Thomas Thwaites from Rathfinny Tasting Room, Alfriston, East Sussex.

Young Sussex Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Natural Partnerships CIC in association with Farmers Weekly magazine was won by Dan Hird, Lambert Farm, Plumpton, East Sussex.

Conor Haydon, who was working at Goodwood Estate, Chichester, West Sussex; and Dan Wells, who was working at Holmbush Farm, Balcombe, West Sussex were the grand finalists.

William Goodwin, chairman of the judges, said: “Congratulations to all our fantastic winners. Over the last decade, Sussex has really earned its place as one of the leading counties in the UK for producing superb food and drink and this year’s winners line up offers an impressive range of first class, diverse businesses from across the county.

“We are all disappointed not to be able to join together for our usual spectacular awards banquet, as restrictions still mean we won’t be able to, but we plan to celebrate together at an outdoor summer party in July at Borde Hill Gardens.”